A rather serious sounding report by scientists who should know what they are talking about at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, based at Harwell, Oxford, says in 2012, a new 11-year solar cycle will begin, bringing magnetic storms that could disrupt power supplies, transport and communications systems, causing widespread disorder around the world.
Mike Hapgood, report author and head of the Space Environment Group at RAL, said: “Space weather is a serious risk that has long been overlooked and it’s time for businesses to know the wider impact it can have on them.”
Rather grimly, he goes on to explain that space weather will have a worse effect on the world than casino banking that’s only set the economy back a generation.
The world’s more at risk than ever before
“Space weather damage in one sector could have a domino effect on others, with a magnetic storm potentially wiping out a power grid for months, disrupting electricity and gas,” said Mr Hapgood.
“This could then directly affect transport, food refrigeration, clean water supply, communication systems, and could set society back at least 100 years.”
The report recommends that businesses need to be aware of the threat to their operations and plan accordingly and using advanced technologies they need to protect themselves.
Trevor Maynard, manager, Lloyd’s emerging risks, took up the baton for insurers: “Space weather, like ordinary weather, varies considerably in its severity and can occur incrementally or as a one off. “
“This isn’t a new phenomenon, space weather has always existed, but it is our growing dependence on electricity based technology that has exacerbated the threat and made us more at risk than ever.”
So is it just a matter of time until the big insurance companies start offering cover for loses brought about by the weather in space?